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Smart Tech Proves the Key to Heightened Security and Convenience

With ease of access and safety the key issues at the jointly-held China Lock Industry and Guangzhou International Biometric Identification Technology expos, smart systems – including fingerprint locks – were very much to the fore.

Photo: Picking a lock: Show visitors peruse the product range.
Picking a lock: Show visitors peruse the product range.
Photo: Picking a lock: Show visitors peruse the product range.
Picking a lock: Show visitors peruse the product range.

The competing priorities of security and convenience were the lead concerns for exhibitors and visitors at this year's jointly-held China Lock Industry and Guangzhou International Biometric Identification Technology expos. For many, the answer seemed to lie in smart systems that offer both ease of access and a high level of protection. The question remained, though, as to whether consumers would be willing to pay the premium prices such systems command.

Overall, a considerable range of technologies was on show at this year's event. While a number of manufacturers favoured fingerprint-based systems, others opted for voice-activated password control access. There was even a sizable contingent offering a combination of several different types of access control in order to deliver additional security.

Safety was another important issue addressed at the show. This saw many exhibitors keen to emphasise the robust nature of their back-up systems, failsafes that ensure access in the case of the loss of electrical power.

Extra Security with Extra Convenience

Taking a lead on the security front was Jiangsu's Taizhou Mahe Machinery Manufacturing, with the company keen to showcase its Wenjia range of locks, which feature an 'invisible' lock cylinder, as well as an electronic plus mechanical anti-theft dual lock.

Photo: The internal structure of the Wenjia lock.
The internal structure of the Wenjia lock.
Photo: The internal structure of the Wenjia lock.
The internal structure of the Wenjia lock.

Explaining the benefits of the system, Bao Jianguo, a Senior Manager with the company, said: "When the key is removed, the lock cylinder recedes into the interior of the door, becoming almost invisible. This conceals the path to the opening mechanism."

Superficially, at least, the Wenjia system looks very similar to conventional locks. It does, however, consist of both a mechanical key and a remote control. The user first deactivates the electronic protection with the remote, then inserts the key into the keyhole when it is exposed. The keyhole then recedes out of sight once the key is removed.

According to Bao, the company's short-range rolling code technology uses a high-security password combination. The electronic lock protection facilities can only be activated via the remote control, which must be no more than 50 cm away from the lock. This short distance prevents the interception of the unlocking information that the remote control transmits.

Placing equal emphasis on security was Dongguan Visisv Science Tech. Its locking system can be opened by a variety of means, including fingerprint analysis, a password, a remote control, a card-scanner or even by old-fashioned keys.

Zhang Dejian, the company's Marketing Director, said that the system utilises a 360-degree anti-tamper, anti-drill air rotating cylinder. Proving the secure nature of the system, a number of experienced locksmiths were tasked with cracking the lock throughout the course of the show, with even the fastest taking 270 minutes.

Zhang said: "We specialise in fingerprint locks, with our system able to store more than 3,000 different user fingerprints. The lock also comes with built-in voice cues, with users able to customise the prompt to their individual requirements."

Photo: Dongguan Visisv’s fingerprint lock.
Dongguan Visisv's fingerprint lock.
Photo: Dongguan Visisv’s fingerprint lock.
Dongguan Visisv's fingerprint lock.
Photo: Key-free security on show.
Key-free security on show.
Photo: Key-free security on show.
Key-free security on show.

The lock can be opened via a number of multiple-layer authentication modes, including a requirement for two sets of fingerprints or for fingerprints plus a password. The password function also utilises anti-peep technology, allowing users to input a chain of random words, only one of which is the actual password. Confident as to the future of the fingerprint biometric lock industry, Zhang said his company had sold more such systems in the May of this year than in the whole of 2015.

Similarly optimistic about the prospect for smart locks was Zhou Yi, the President of Shenzhen Coson Electronic Technology. His own company is currently focussed on the development of the core control modules used in intelligent locks.

Photo: The Shenzhen Coson Electronic Technology stand.
The Shenzhen Coson Electronic Technology stand.
Photo: The Shenzhen Coson Electronic Technology stand.
The Shenzhen Coson Electronic Technology stand.
Photo: Shenzhen Coson’s smart lock architecture.
Shenzhen Coson's smart lock architecture.
Photo: Shenzhen Coson’s smart lock architecture.
Shenzhen Coson's smart lock architecture.

According to Zhou, an intelligent lock can be incorporated into a large smart home system through a gateway module. Coson's smart lock module can be unlocked by keys, a smartphone, Bluetooth or passwords. By installing an app developed by the company on their mobile phone, visitors will be able to unlock the door with the owner's authorisation or obtain a dynamic password from the owner for a one time unlocking. The owner can also view the status and the number of times the door has been opened and closed via the mobile app.

Back-Up Systems

Electronic locks require a power supply and most cannot be opened in the event of a circuit failure or an exhausted battery. With this a clear concern to users, a number of exhibitors had their own bespoke solutions on offer for tackling the problem.

Photo: The Taizhou Mahe Machinery Manufacturing stand.
The Taizhou Mahe Machinery Manufacturing stand.
Photo: The Taizhou Mahe Machinery Manufacturing stand.
The Taizhou Mahe Machinery Manufacturing stand.

In the case of Taizhou Mahe Machinery Manufacturing's Wenjia lock, as well as batteries, the system is also equipped with a self-generating power device. Turning the circular button on the upper side of the door lock will automatically generate power. Clearly, locks that offer both battery operation and a self-generated power system provide extra backup and peace of mind. In the case of an emergency, users only need to press the handle from the inside to open the door.

In the case of the fingerprint lock showcased by Dongguan Visisv Science Tech, the use of a key is made almost entirely obsolete. Zhang said that the system is highly convenient and negates the need for people to carry keys around with them, as well as dispending with the problems caused by lost or forgotten keys.

The company's system can function for 18 months on four batteries or for up to four years if the eight battery option is adopted. In the case of a power outage, the lock can either be opened by a key or an additional battery can be temporarily installed externally to restore fingerprint access.

Other exhibitors at this year's show included Microzero. This Guangzhou-based company launched its fingerprint identification algorithm system, complete with a 360-degree rotation identification function, at the event.

In terms of safes, Jiangxi Tiger Safe Equipment Group had on show a range of high-quality steel units. These were all formed from a single piece of metal, with no hard corners – an innovation said to ensure added strength. Zhongshan-based Ribao, meanwhile, displayed a range of safes with an automatic double-lock design, with their secondary mechanical locks triggered automatically in the case of any unauthorised attempt to access their content.

The China Lock Industry Expo and the Guangzhou International Biometric Identification Technology Expo were held at the Guangzhou Poly World Trade Expo Center from 13-15 May.

Xing Bin, Special Correspondent, Guangzhou

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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